The Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle, registered as the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, is open to fillies and mares only.
It commemorates 'the Duke' David Nicholson, who won 4 races at the Festival as a jockey and 17 as a trainer.
Only established in 2008, the race quickly made history with legendary mare Quevega winning it 6 times in a row from 2009-2014:
It has undoubtedly been a success, with other high-class winners such as Apple's Jade, Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle.
MARES’ HURDLE TRENDS
Mullins used to dominate this race (albeit Quevega represented 6 of his 9 wins), but he has now saddled the beaten favourite in each of the last four years - three at odds-on.
In fact, four odds-on shots were defeated in succession from 2018, starting with the Gordon Elliott trained Apple's Jade at 1/2.
Meanwhile, a runner priced 16/1 or bigger has finished in the first three in 13 of the 15 renewals.
That has included 18/1 and 20/1 winners, plus placed horses at 33/1 (twice), 40/1 (twice), 50/1 and 66/1 (twice).
Stamina seems to be the key prerequisite, with all but the very first winner having already won over this trip or further.
LAST 5 WINNERS’ DATA
The Nicky Henderson trained Marie's Rock won the 2022 Mares' Hurdle, a race which featured five previous Cheltenham Festival winners.
Owned by the Middleham Park Racing syndicate, she was ridden to a length and three-quarters victory by Nico de Boinville:
The 2021 Close Brothers Mares' winner was Black Tears, ridden by Jack Kennedy:
Honeysuckle defeated odds-on favourite Benie Des Dieux in an epic battle in 2020:
Roksana won in 2019 after odds-on Benie Des Dieux fell at the last, while seemingly cruising to back-to-back victories:
The fall was eerily reminiscent of Annie Power's at the same hurdle in this race 4 years earlier.
Both were ridden by Ruby Walsh, trained by Willie Mullins and both sported the pink and green silks of owner Rich Ricci:
Benie Des Dieux had lowered the colours of reigning champion Apple's Jade in 2018.
She was running over hurdles for the first time since November 2015, but the switch back to smaller obstacles paid off:
Apple’s Jade fended off the Mullin's pair of Vroum Vroum Mag & Limini in 2017:
Annie Power's infamous final hurdle fall in 2015, with the race at her mercy, will be long remembered.
Willie Mullins had sent out three winners on the day and bookies faced huge liabilities on accumulator bets on his four favourites:
Estimated to have saved the bookmaking industry over £50 million, it was thus called "the single most expensive fall in National Hunt history" for punters.
Annie Power found redemption 12 months later, by winning the Champion Hurdle.